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How reliable WiFi supports personalised learning in schools

How reliable WiFi supports personalised learning in schools

Table of Contents

The days of classrooms full of children all learning the same thing by rote are long behind us in education. These days, the individual child is at the centre of learning, and teachers are expected to adapt how and what they teach to meet each child’s individual needs.

Personalised learning is both an expectation and a holy grail. Schools must enable every child to meet their full potential and are judged in inspections and league tables accordingly. To achieve that, you must understand individual strengths and weaknesses, maximise the former, and work to overcome the latter.

On the other hand, there is a recognition that delivering personalised learning in its most total sense is exceptionally challenging. So how can one teacher adapt every lesson, both in planning and delivery, so that 30 children get the exact blend of instruction, support and challenge they need to continuously move forward at every point of every day?

How can you account for and spot every misconception, every conceptual breakthrough that opens up the next level? How can you gear lessons to suit all interests?

It sounds impossible. But then, we always have technology that can do beautiful things.

How technology can support personalised learning

Much of education depends on access to information. In a traditional classroom, the primary source of information would be the teacher, followed by books – mostly the same books for the whole class. In the digital age, the options are far more significant. The internet gives any learner access to vast swathes of available information. With the proper guidance, even young children can plot their way through it in their way, at their own pace.

Providing every learner with convenient internet access opens up many possibilities for personalised learning. It promotes independence, allowing children to discover and research things for themselves. It also accommodates different learning styles and fosters choice – children can choose to learn something from text, pictures or video to suit, and the multimedia devices they use to access the internet also allow them to demonstrate their learning in various ways.

But embracing technology in education is not about handing responsibility to the internet. Networking and cloud technologies also have a crucial role in distributing software applications that structure learning in a personalised way.

Learning platforms are like the digital equivalent of textbooks, except users do not have to progress through them linearly. Instead, using algorithms, learning platforms will decide on the next steps for a child based on their input and answers to questions – put very simply, if they struggle, they will get more practice; if they fly through, they will be presented with more of a challenge. In addition, the software can automatically evaluate individual areas of strengths and weaknesses and tailor content to suit.

Infrastructure to support personalised learning

All of the above requires two key things – reliable access to the internet so all students can access learning platforms and web-based resources as they need them and their own devices to do so. Sharing laptops or tablets means the learning is not fully personalised.

Much discussion goes into the resourcing implications of providing every child in a school with a digital device, whether a shared pool of endpoints is suitable or whether Bring Your Device (BYOD) is the best way forward. But equal attention should also be paid to how the broadband network is accessed.

WiFi makes the most sense for supporting personalised learning because it promotes mobility in school. A PC on a wired internet connection means a child has to be in a particular place at a specific time, and providing ethernet to a device for every child is just impractical from a set-up and maintenance perspective.

With WiFi, a child can take their device with them – it follows them in their learning, and they can dip in and out of projects when they like. This encourages children to take ownership of what they do. The younger generation is also being brought up using mobile devices rather than laptops, and WiFi and intelligent mobile devices go hand in hand.

To fully support personalised learning through technology, schools need to pay attention to the reliability and agility of their WiFi system. Too many WiFi networks in schools are outdated; they cannot support the data traffic created by whole classes of children going online at once. If half a class cannot get online, the lesson falls apart.

Similarly, older WiFi networks face issues of moving between access points (APs) – each AP only has a limited range, and switching the transmission of data packets from one to another can lead to page freezing or crashing. Again, this restricts the mobility WiFi should be able to offer.

These issues are easy to solve with the latest WLAN technologies available. For example, network capacity can be upgraded to easily accommodate a school full of users, and the latest WiFi protocols address mobility issues.

If you want to learn more about setting up or upgrading a WiFi network in your school, please get in touch with Simpli-Fi today. We provide a managed WiFi service to the educationconstructionleisure and public sectors, delivering robust and affordable WiFi connections with remote management, service desk and support.

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As founder of Simpli-Fi, Gary's knowledge of cutting-edge networks and technology solutions is second to none. Gary has worked on countless projects over the years, from straightforward connectivity projects to complex, large-scale networking projects across multiple buildings.

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